I was so excited for this year’s E3. It was the first year I’d been invited to attend the Microsoft press conference, and it was a hell of a year to be in the audience with the announcement of a slew of great titles. I left the Galen Center and strolled over to the EA press conference, blissfully unaware that things were all going to change in a matter of hours.
How could we Xbox fans know what was coming? At worst, maybe there would be an exclusive or two that Sony had wrapped up that would make it necessary to buy a PS4, but when was the last time there was a truly game-changing press conference at E3? The Sony press conference started with everything groan worthy that we had come to expect from Sony’s press conferences: Powerpoint slides telling us all how many PS Vitas had sold in South Africa. A half hour into the conference, they started talking about games that are coming out for the PS3, and I felt that Sony was yet again screwing up.
But no, Sony’s Jack Tretton was just getting warmed up. Everyone’s favorite uncle strutted about the stage and started sending the hits out our way. Everyone had heard rumors about how badly Microsoft had treated their independent game developers, but to see 17-Bit Games (Skulls of the Shogun) and Supergiant Games (Bastion) standing on the Sony stage saying they were working exclusively with Sony? I mean, Skulls of the Shogun…the game that came out on Windows Phone and Windows 8? I’m not sure if Sony will do a better job of keeping them happy after their game releases, but apparently anything was better than working with Microsoft.
Then, the standing ovation moment of the announcement of Sony allowing the PS4 to play used games with no fees or other assorted nonsense attached. Professional journalists were on their feet screaming with approval, and Jack Tretton took the minute of bedlam to stand on the stage and bask in the glow. But they weren’t done.
The price. Xbox was set at $499, and as I said in my write up about the Xbox press conference, that seemed reasonable. But to announce the console at $399? It definitely was a “drop the mic/peace out bitches” moment.
I was reeling. I was already going to buy a PS4 for games like Infamous Second Son and The Order 1886, but between Sony’s come-from-behind domination with their PS Plus service and now all this new information…why would I buy an Xbox One now? Honestly? I mean, I’m sure there will be plenty of exclusives, but no “big brother/always on” Kinect sensor, and Xbox Live has always been the console to play multiplayer games on, but…
This was going to be the generation where both Sony and Microsoft stood up against the garbage resale business model behind Gamestop. This was going to be the generation where consoles reached a level of parity with their big brother PC rigs. Everyone assumed that in some smoky conference room, the highest ranking of Sony and Microsoft representatives came together and agreed on how they would handle this next generation when it came to the handling of used game sales. Everyone assumed that whoever announced first, the other organization would follow suit. It feels like Sony watched the Microsoft press conference, then called an audible and juked, leaving Microsoft holding the very smelly and overpriced bag.
As much as everyone hates talking about someone “winning” E3, Sony certainly threw a knockout punch at Microsoft last night. The only thing that Microsoft fans can hope for is for Microsoft to fire their own salvo back, but how? It is possible these are all “campaign promises” of two Presidential candidates and that these announcements will be changing up to the launch date, but even then…what? Launch an Xbox One without the Kinect sensor for $399? Microsoft already claimed that the Xbox One NEEDED to have that damn thing on at all times. So do they double back and look like idiots? Guess they have to, because Sony now looks like the PS4 is going to be the gaming console that is going to be in every living room, and only the true enthusiasts will have an Xbox One for exclusives.
Whatever happens now, Sony has already put Microsoft into a nasty position they need to dig out from, with no clear way to win back the public. You can bet Microsoft is in a series of desperate behind-closed-door meetings on how to handle this disaster.